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The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth [Anglais] [Broché]

Robert Graves , Grevel Lindop

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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  57 commentaires
133 internautes sur 141 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Flawed Masterpiece 17 décembre 2001
Par Thomas F. Ogara - Publié sur Amazon.com
I am a great fan of Robert Graves. I find him to be an outstanding poet, an excellent novelist, and a compelling writer of non-fiction. Probably the best known, if not the best, example of the last mentioned genre is "The White Goddess."
When "Goddess" first appeared in the late 1940's it was a groundbreaking work; for lack of a better definition it is a book on cultural anthropolgy written by a poet, who felt that as a a poet and a man who understood the inner motivation of the poet he would give his views on the Muse and her invocation. The book covers a lot of territory, sprawling across civilization from the Greeks to the Celts, and from the three forms of the Muse to the Fisher King to the Ogham alphabet. It wanders so far that it's hard to keep up with Mr. Graves as he gallops across centuries and over distances. For those of us used to Mr. Graves' usual tight control of his material and its presentation, it's difficult to deal with how he jumps from subject to subject with little or no notice.
I'm almost tempted to say that this is Mr. Graves' version of "Finnegan's Wake", only in a non-fictional form. It certainly is his encomium to the White Goddess, whom he identifies as the original Muse of all poets, including himself. There's enough to think about for years in this book, and neo-pagan movements may be described as having largely started based on the thoughts provoked by this book.
But Graves was a poet, not a social scientist, and in the last fifty years many of his observations have been proven to be wrong. This in itself is not so surprising, nor is it really such a bad thing; the real problem is the amount of emotional residue that those ideas left in their wake. Graves makes some observations that some would find offensive now, such as his allegation that women can't be real poets - they have no Muse to appeal to, the White Goddess only wants the worship of males. He makes a possible exception of Sappho, for what it's worth.
In short, "Goddess" still deserves to be read - it's a good, albeit exhausting read, and Graves is always worth reading - but it would be a mistake to pick up his ideas and run with them.
72 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 visions and memory in myth 17 décembre 1999
Par karl b. - Publié sur Amazon.com
I won't pretend I know exactly what this book is about. Graves presents his arguments with the reasoning of a poet, decidedly not the formal logic of a theologian or the empirical induction of a historian. I gave this book 5 stars because of its sheer ambition and audacity. Graves is attempting a synthesis of the entirety of mythology into a coherent grammatical code, a universal metaphysical language. That is a monumental undertaking, not only due to the breadth of knowledge of the Christian, Pagan and Classical canons it requires, but also because these traditions are commonly regarded as antithetical, their communities, such as they exist, hostile to each other. Graves proffers a common root under the ossified codices, if with an uneven case.
Poets, as a group, are known for their affinity to the mystical and mythological. The poetic temperament imbues and projects inner forms with aspects of corporeality, which the rest of us grasp only dimly as a spectre of consciousness, without significance or shape. The true poet is more likely to see them as a magical talisman, an object of necessary reality. Numbers, alphabets, calendars, zodiacs-- lunar and solar domains-- a primal order bubbles from the cauldron of Graves's conceptions. His spells are incarnate in trees, minerals, birds, planets-- metaphors of an underlying truth.
This analysis springs from two dense poems of spiritual mysticism, The Battle of the Trees (Welsh Druid) and Hanes Taliesen ( Early Christian). Presented as a vision, like Revelations, they pose a riddle and mix symbols. Graves's solution loosely ties his thesis together. Linguists have theorized about the existence of grammatical archetypes; mythic relics are visible in Christian sacraments; correspondence amongst various folklore is widely acknowledged. Graves is not proposing anything radically new. He has, though, developed a cryptic framework which is supernatural and aesthetic, an elixir of divination and contemplation. He sees the White Goddess, as muse, in every authentic poem since those of Homer. His construction puts history at the service of his grammatical architecture. The White Goddess is a work of introspection and selective interpretation, comparable to those of Jung or Spengler, not one of conventional scholarship. Many of its assertions are farfetched or arbitrary, some pure formulations. That is not to understate its value. This is the culmination of a life's reflections, investigations and musings. It represents the articulation of a powerful, syncretic imagination-- a concordance of speculation and intuition.
32 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Jaw-Dropping Amazement 14 octobre 2005
Par J. W. Kennedy - Publié sur Amazon.com
More startling than the Golden Bough! More conjectural than Manly Hall! Who cares if the facts are correct? This book is amazing, and enough of it matches up with familiar mytho-historical fragments to keep you going along, nodding your head and saying "yeah, I'm with you." Graves admits quite clearly that much of his conclusions are pure conjecture. This book isn't about history, it's about poetry and mysticism - if you're moaning about the disservice done to Celtic scholarship, then perhaps you've missed the point. He was guessing. He was making stuff up. He was following his intuition, as long as it made some kind of sense. And it does...

Chapter 19 "The Number of the Beast" is a side-step completely out of the thread of the rest of the book. He devotes the entire chapter to document, step by step, his train of though as he winds his way backwards, forwards, and completely sideways to arrive at a FRIGHTENINGLY plausible solution for the famous "666" cryptogram from the Revelation of St. John. In fact, he arrives at the same traditional solution that theologians have known for centuries, but he arrives there by a completely different route. This book is a supreme example of what management-seminar speakers call "thinking outside of the box." Graves has gotten so far outside the box that he seems to have forgotten that there even WAS a box. The incredible thing is, that there's a lot of truly amazing stuff out there and a lot of it sounds completely plausible after you've followed the circuitous chain of mental connections that got you there..

Though I've read the Mabinogion, Chretiene de Troyes' Arthurian romances, and lots of Norse / Icelandic lore, I'll admit there was quite a bit here that went over my head, some material I was unfamiliar with. But just when I thought Graves had vanished over the hills and left me behind, he'd come back with something familiar and I'd go "oh, right ... so that's where this was headed. By all means, continue..."

Reading this book is worthwhile just for the delightful experience of being on the edge of your seat as some smooth-talking showman (possibly a charlatan, but who cares?) slowly draws back the veil .. you feel at each moment that a profound secret is about to be revealed, maybe on the next page, or the next one... It's been a long time since I read anything that THRILLED me like this book did.

Some other reviewers seem to have missed the distinction between mere fact and TRUTH. Graves' facts may be incorrect; you can pick at them and prove them wrong (can you? really? personally, I wanted to believe every word), but the White Goddess is not diminished by scholarly dissections. What Graves is talking about here is the profound, amazing, overwhelming, dark, unsettling, everlasting TRUTH. And if you care at all about that, this is a book you really should read.
26 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An insightful read 9 novembre 2005
Par Kelley Heckart - Publié sur Amazon.com
I think a lot of people have missed the point of this book. Robert Graves was a poet, not a historian or an expert on Celtic mythology. The subtitle for The White Goddess is "A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth." He was attempting to interpret the ancient poems. While I did not always agree with his interpretations, I found them to be quite intriguing.

Ancient poets were like the rock stars of today. They kept the history of the people, and may have been trying to hide secret information in their poetry that these ancient people did not want falling into the wrong hands. Mr. Graves was trying to break these secret codes.

I didn't pay too much attention to what Mr. Graves was saying about the Celtic Ogham, but more about the different faces of the Goddess, the lesser known parts of Greek mythology, and the different properties of trees as they related to the ancient people. Ancient people lived their lives shrouded in superstition, harboring a great respect for the earth, something we in this modern age of self-destruction, would do well to learn from.

At times, Mr. Graves jumped around too much for my taste, but I still found this to be a very interesting book. Whether you believe the Celts originated in Greece or not, this is still a book filled with important poetic insight.
39 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 This is clearly required reading for modern poets & pagans. 12 janvier 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Robert Graves never truly expected "White Goddess" to become the classic it has. However, along with "I, Claudius" & "Goodbye To All That" it may well be the only book the general public remembers him for. It is certainly unique in the field of poetry &
caused much controversy that still rages on today in poetic, historic & religious circles.
Graves called it "a historical grammar of poetic myth" & while that may sound a little
vague there may be no better way to define it. "White Goddess" is based on the theory that
true poetry isn't the free & interpretive verse that most people believe, but is instead
spiritual in function & governed by ancient pagan religious ideas. It seeks to express, in a
language of traditional mythic symbols, the five-fold stages of a never ending life & death
cycle. Graves attempts to trace the origins of this mythic language back to ancient Europe
& suggests that it may have even originated before the building of stonehenge. In the
process of researching this mythic language he explains history in mythic terms & myth in
historical terms, throwing new light on both by use of his "analeptic" method, which he
argues is a valid form of research.
Graves argues that true poetry, by it's very nature, is pagan & that the druids were
it's undisputed masters. With the coming of Greek philosophers & later Christian
missionaries, the true function of poetry & myth were lost. He uses countless references
to support his claims & the reader should be familiar with Greek & Celtic history &
mythology to get the most from this book. A familiarity with Frazer's "Golden Bough" is
also recommended.
Some of his history is flawed & his ideas of an early universal calendar-alphabet is
highly suspect. However, he still succeeded in his goal. He created, or recreated, a valid
& functional mythology for modern poets to apply to their work. In doing so he
unknowingly also set the standard for the modern neo-pagan movement. The book has
become accepted as one of the founding texts in the pagan community for it's insight into
the meaning & function of mythology. Not to mention it's call for a more liberal & less
dogmatic belief system.
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